Early Gamesmanship? Hawks Coach Fined $25K for Stating the NBA Wants Knicks in Playoffs

Although the Knicks-Hawks playoff series doesn’t start until Sunday, the NBA officials have already handed out its first “technical” to Nate McMillan.

The interim Hawks coach was fined $25,000 for comments deemed “asserting bias by the NBA relating to the 2020-21 Playoffs,” the league announced on Wednesday.

The comments were as follows:

I’ve talked about that to the team a lot. The league wants this. They need this. New York. It’s a big market for the league, and New York has been out of the playoffs for a lot of years, and this is a team our league wants to see.

And this is a team that our league, they want to see — there’s a huge fan base — and they want to see New York in the playoffs.

While on the surface this is no worse than what LeBron James said on Twitter about the Knicks a month ago, timing is everything. A comment like this less than a week before what most consider a pick ’em playoffs series could be construed as implying the refs might have favorable whistles New York’s way.

But here’s the thing. Conversation like this go on all the time in locker rooms. They can be a great motivational tool, especially for the Hawks who already have been treated as an afterthought in this series (despite being arguably more talented and deeper on paper). In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if McMillan did this purposely just to further show his team the league isn’t in their corner.

Just last year we got the Michael Jordan meme that keeps on giving (“And I took that personal…”). The Atlanta Hawks will likely take that same mentality into game 1 this Sunday, and the Knicks better be prepared to meet it by firing on all cylinders.

Kevin Knox’s 22 Points Leads Knicks Over Hawks in Summer League Debut


There’s still time to apologize if you booed this man on draft night. Kevin Knox lived above the rim and displayed his talent in transition by scoring 22 points and leading the Knicks over the Trae Young-led Hawks 91-89. All eyes were on this game as it was not only the Summer League debut for these new Knicks, but also coach David Fizdale’s first chance to evaluate his young charges. As expected, they were far from perfect, but this squad has the athleticism and energy we’ve lacked for years.

WE HAVE A STUD!: For the Knicks’ very first basket, Kevin Knox went coast to coast for a thunderous dunk. It would be a recurring theme throughout the night as our prize rookie had an extra gear Atlanta couldn’t match.

His shooting was a struggle (1/7 from three-point range), but he managed to go 8/20 and most importantly, showed he can score in multiple ways when the jumper isn’t falling. Speaking of said jumper, his form is smooth so there’s no doubt he can become a formidable three-point shooter.

WE HAVE ANOTHER PAINT DEFENDER: With Kanter back and KP still out, I’ve had bad visions of open layups and constant PNR abuse. Those fears have been relieved by our other rookie in Mitchell Robinson. The 7’footer has freakish length which he used to great effect in the passing lanes and harassing penetrators. He notched a game-high four blocks, including a beautiful swat on a point-blank dunk.

The glaring problem with Mitchell’s game today is not even his fault — his teammates constantly missed him cutting to the basket for easy dunks. Nonetheless, he finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds (four offensive).

THE NEW JR?: Allonzo Trier might just be our new JR Smith and I mean that with all the good and bad it entails. Trier is a chucker and we’ll have nights where we want to strangle him. He was one of the guys not looking for Mitchell when the big man cut to the rim. Trier did prove valuable in the fourth with a few timely jumpers and icing the game at the free throw line.

Trier was only 5/12 from the field, but he ended up having a well-rounded game to the tune of 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

SAME OLD FRANK?: The highlight videos we’ve seen over the last few weeks had us hopeful Frank Ntilikina (5 points, 5 assists, 2 steals) would level up this year. His first quarter was solid — we saw him giving Trae Young fits in the backcourt and forcing late shot-clock heaves.

Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. We saw the same problems from last year — picking up his dribble too early, indecisive about his shot and not running the offense smoothly (unexpected passes leading to turnovers).

If you’re holding out hope, you’ll say this was just one game and he’ll get better with Fizdale in his ear. On the glass half empty side, you’ll say Frank was out there struggling against lower competition.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It finally feels like we have a “modern” team! Our squad is filled with young, athletic guys with length to guard any position. How about Troy Williams being an energy spark all night (17 points)? He really kept us alive when the offense was struggling. It was nice to see Damyean Dotson in the huddle pushing everyone to step it up defensively. We have some work to do on that end, particularly when guarding the perimeter. Yes, there will be growing pains. But the Knicks finally have a clear vision for the future and aren’t chasing free agent pipe dreams.

I’m already psyched about tomorrow night’s game against Utah.

Knicks Complete Back to Back Sweep of Hawks


The Knicks accomplished perhaps their best feat thus far this season with back to back wins over the elite Atlanta Hawks.

Ball movement? You got it and it started with Carmelo Anthony, who had 7 assists last night and flirted with a triple double (23 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists). On Sunday’s game he had five. In two games, New York tallied 27 dishes.

Defense? The Hawks were held to 35% from three and went from 23 fast break points on Sunday to just 8 Tuesday night. They shot an average of 44% from the field, but never got a consistent offense going due to the Knicks’ pesky interior defense, helmed by Robin Lopez and Kristaps Porzingis combining for 7 blocks in the two outings.

Backcourt production? Arron Afflalo exploded for 38 points on Sunday, torching Atlanta by hitting his first seven three pointers and going 14/17 from the field. Calderon was +9 in Sunday’s game, but had his best moment last night when he hit a clutch driving layup over several Hawk defenders to put New York up 105-101 with 18 seconds remaining. He finished with 7 points and six assists.

Bench spark? Jerian Grant had his best game as a Knick on Sunday. He looked for his shot and passed, scoring 8 points and dishing for 7 assists. Last night, it was Derrick Williams providing much needed production with 15 points.

Coaching? Derek Fisher went with a nine-man rotation and exploited matchups. His subs gave the starters adequate rest, and he stayed with the players that provided a hot hand.

Toughness? The Knicks didn’t fall apart when the Hawks tightened up last night and tried to bully them. Robin Lopez retaliated quickly from a Paul Millsap cheap shot, and Porzingis got right in Kent Bazemore’s face for the same tactics (with Melo having his back).

The team still has a ways to go, but the chemistry is building. And with this squad already equaling last year’s 17 wins, you can’t help but be optimistic.

PATHETIC! Knicks Blow 17-Point Lead, Fall to Hawks 107-98


Weak. Weak in all facets: defense, mentally, offensive execution… you name it. Not even 24 hours after squandering a 14-point lead against the tanking Magic, the Knicks repeated their disgraceful play in allowing another team to let their guards run amuck and a random player get a career high (Mike Scott, 30 points off the bench) as the Hawks embarrassed them in the fourth quarter. And keep in mind this was with two of the Hawks’ best players, Paul Millsap and Al Horford, out with injuries.

This team is hopeless. Just sit back and watch the train wreck.

STRONG FIRST HALF: Outside of a bad defensive run early in the second quarter, the Knicks played well on both sides of the court. Over the last nine minutes of the half, they went on a 29-6 run to take a 52-39 lead. Overall, they outscored the Hawks 29-15 in the second quarter. Melo had 19 points, Chandler 13 rebounds, and all seemed well for NY. But if you had watched this team recently, you knew no lead was safe, and New York showed their usual true colors over the second half.

A LAZY TEAM GETS SUBPAR RESULTS: After coming out strong going up 56-39, the Knicks started to do what they always do — take their foot off the gas and start going against everything they got them success. The defensive rotations started coming slower, allowing guys like DeMarre Carroll and Mike Scott to swish open threes and drive to the basket. Jeff Teague suddenly realized the Knicks guards are the worst defensive group in the league and started driving to the rim at will.

By the beginning of the fourth, the Hawks had rattled off 3 consecutive treys to take a 77-73 lead. They never looked back.

HARDAWAY JR. – HOW CAN DEFENSE BE SO BAD???: No one was really good defensively tonight, but the player who stood out as the absolute worst was Tim Hardaway Jr. Now, we all love our fearless rookie, but that’s no excuse for the woeful defense he exhibited over and over. He makes Steve Novak look like Scottie Pippen. On fast breaks, his feet moved like a newborn deer. When attempting to guard Jeff Teague, he got blown by at will for layups.

You could tell the schooling was rattling him on the offensive end, as his normal sharp-shooting eroded into a 3/10 night (1/5 from three).

YOU ALREADY KNOW WITH FELTON: Our usual whipping boy started off good with six assists in the first half. But as usual, he was another Knicks guard getting blown by on defense, giving up three-pointers and bricking open shots.

4TH QUARTER FUCKERY: For the rest of the season, every Knicks fourth quarter should be accompanied with Benny Hill theme music. They were outscored 39-25, and Melo had to come back within 3 minutes, making his rest ridiculously short. He tried to will us to another win, but another strong effort (35 points, 52% shooting) was wasted.

KILL IT WITH FIRE: Hey Knicks, want to ensure that Melo sticks around this offseason? The best thing you can tell him is that no one, with the possible exception of Hardaway, will be back. That’s right, I want this whole team gone. Watching them is now making me physically ill. Buy them all out like Metta and Beno.

Melo the Closer – Knicks 111, Hawks 106


The Knicks overcame the heartbreak of Friday’s defeat in Boston by putting together a wholly efficient offensive performance to take a 111-106 victory over a red-hot shooting Atlanta Hawks team at Madison Square Garden. Outside of one moping player, all was well in NYC last night.


GOOD AND BAD DEFENSE: The Knicks did an excellent job of disrupting the Hawks offense with deflections and steals. They forced 12 turnovers in the first half and 27 for the entire game. It was completely necessary to offset the scorching shooting of the Hawks, who shot around 60% for most of the game. The percentage was due to the inside dominance of Paul Millsap (18 points, 8 rebounds) and Al Horford (17 points, 6 rebounds) coupled with the Knicks guards amazingly losing Kyle Korver on the perimeter (13 points, 4-9 from three).

THE SPARKS: We know Melo will get his, but the question with this Knicks team is who backs up our star player. Last night it was Tim Hardaway Jr. (13 points) who was aggressive getting to the rim for several dunks in the first half. Stoudemire (9 points, 5 rebounds) had a quieter game by his recent standards, but his output was great in getting the Knicks breathing room in the second quarter despite the Hawks shooting around 56% in the first half.

MELO THE FOCUS BUT TEAM EFFORT: The second half is where the team has had problems and in the third bad defense reared its ugly head. The Knicks had a 62-48 lead after the first few minutes, but left Korver open for back to back treys to help ignite a 15-6 run. ATL could not miss from the perimeter and were just behind 81-77 going into the fourth.

Up until that point, Melo had shot 9/15 from the field. There were a few rushed shots from him, but outside of that the team made his job much easier. Prigioni was dishing sweet passes to Melo and Bargnani. And speaking of Prigioni, his shooting kept the defense honest, dropping 11 points (3-6 from downtown). This gave NY a nice 15-point cushion late — under those cirmcumstances, Melo’s heat-check three, which went in to make the lead 106-93, was welcomed. Melo ended with another good stat line of 35 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

The reason for the seemingly close score was Atlanta hitting four straight threes in less than two minutes of garbage time.

SULKING JR: Although JR Smith got the starting assignment at small forward, he managed just 1-8 from the field in 24 minutes (benched for all of the 4th). He looked like he was at a funeral on the sidelines with Prigioni trying to console him. This comes on the heels of JR just attempting one shot against Boston.

A lot of fans are ready to ship JR out, but my memory is not short. His bench play last year was key in our team finishing at the second seed. With the knee surgery, I’ll give JR at least until the All-Star break to get it together.


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Copeland Drops Career-High 33 Points in Knicks Season Sweep Win of Hawks


No Melo. No JR. No Felton. No Chandler. No K-Mart. It felt ugly just to write that, so you can imagine how disjointed last night’s game was with most of the Knicks starters resting. The Knicks were still able to come out on top behind the offense of Chris Copeland to take a season series sweep over the Hawks with a 98-92 win.


YET ANOTHER INJURY: Does it ever stop? Pablo Prigioni was manning the point and doing a great job of moving the ball for open shots (the Knicks shot 50% in the first quarter). And even better, Pablo had the green light and was gunning from three.

Disaster struck when he went bassline and sprained his right ankle. The X-rays were negative, but Prigioni didn’t return and the offense suffered with Iman Shumpert forced to play point guard. There’s no word yet on if he’ll have to sit out the playoff opener on Saturday against Boston.


SHUMP SETTLES DOWN: Shumpert had a real tough time with point guard duties. He couldn’t penetrate consistently so a lot of times the ball remained stuck on the perimeter with long jumpers or isos to Copeland.

The offense pretty much stayed that way until a minor Copeland left shoulder injury forced others to contribute. Shump was then able to start getting in the lane and finishing for layups and finding James White for jumpers. The pair connected for a nice fast break alley oop that pushed the lead to 93-78 late in the fourth.


FIND YOUR SHOT, NOVAK: Steve Novak got a lot of good looks yesterday but couldn’t hit anything (going 0-6 in the first half). He wouldn’t score until  the closing minutes of the fourth and got a sarcastic applause from the crowd when his three-pointer gave the Knicks a 98-86 lead.

Since Novak is a huge liability on defense, if he isn’t scoring he’ll need a firm seat on the bench in these upcoming playoff games.


THE “NEW OLD KNICKS:” This game marked the return of two Knicks from the franchise’s dark ages in Earl Barron and Quentin Richardson. 

Barron must have seen what happened to Solomon Jones because he started fast in scoring the first few points and eating up rebounds. He came back to earth real quick and we started to see his liabilities, namely a penchant for fumbling passes. He’s a big body though and in spots he can be effective, as evidenced by the fact he had 18 rebounds to go with 11 points.

Quentin Richardson hit his first shot, a three-pointer, and promptly did the “three to the head” taunt. After that he missed his next 10 shots. His defense was mostly solid and he nabbed 10 rebounds, so if that holds I’ll be ok with this signing.


COPELAND THE THIRD OPTION: Copeland dropped a career-high 33 points and was the reason the Knicks held the lead the full game. When the Hawks would get within the 3-5 point deficit range, Cope would secure a bucket inside or a three-pointer. His job was made harder by the fact no one else on the Knicks could create their own shot.

We already know in the playoffs that Melo and JR will carry the bulk of the offensive load. But for the Knicks to really go deep, there needs to be a third scorer in there. Copeland has proved over these last two games that he’s versatile enough to be that guy.

10 and Counting — Melo and JR Turn Atlanta Into MSG South, Knicks Defeat Hawks 95-82


On the second night of a road back to back, the Knicks had every reason to pack this one in. What we received was another stellar performance from Carmelo Anthony. And even more importantly, our superstar got to lay back in the fourth quarter while others stepped up to put the Atlanta Hawks out of their misery. The Knicks win streak has now hit double digits and with this play, it might not be stopping anytime soon.


MELO CARRIES THE LOAD THROUGH THREE:  After a quiet 1-4 shooting start, Melo erupted for 13 points in the first quarter and 24 points by halftime. Unlike last night’s 50 point game, which was exclusively on perimeter jumpers, Melo went inside out on Josh Smith, who was completely hapless on defense. When the Hawks doubled, Melo didn’t force it and kicked out to the open man. Unfortunately, most of the open looks from Jason Kidd, JR Smith and Raymond Felton weren’t being converted on, which allowed the Hawks to hang around.

Atlanta took a brief lead in the third behind Kyle Korver’s hot shooting (25 points, six three-pointers), but the Knicks never allowed Atlanta to get more than a point or two in front.

While it was awesome watching Melo torch Smith, you began wondering if he would have any gas left for the fourth, as he had to 36 of the Knicks’ 68 points headed into the final stanza.


FELTON AND JR COME ALIVE: Wondering how the Knicks walked out of Atlanta with a double-digit lead with Melo only scoring four points in the fourth? That falls on Felton and Smith, who combined for an astounding 20 points on 9/12 shooting. Both had been struggling with their shots, but everything came together when it mattered. Felton attacked the lane fearlessly for repeated layups due to the Hawks defense focusing too closely on Melo. And JR, who couldn’t finish at the rim for nothing in the previous three quarters, was now shaking Hawks players at will for short jumpers and a dagger three late that put New York up 87-76. The life had been sucked out of the Hawks and JR added some more dirt to their grave by blowing past Josh Smith for a two-handed slam. Smith finished with 19 points while Felton contributed 14.


THE ROUGH SPOTS:  The second and third quarter were frustrating to watch as the Knicks were giving the Hawks unnecessary life. The main culprit that stood out was Iman Shumpert. He made the repeated blunder of sagging off Kyle Korver and getting burned for three-pointers. This was why Coach Woodson elected to go with Jason Kidd to close out the fourth. It ended up being a wise decision, as Kidd was huge in shutting down Korver and keeping the ball moving to the tune of 7 assists (the best being a alley oop slam to Melo in the fourth). Kidd also protected the boards with 5 rebounds.


WOUNDED WARRIOR: Tyson Chandler is jsut two games into his return froma  bulging disc in his neck. Last game he complained of stiffness, and tonight he was seen holding his left clavicle area after a rebound in the first half. Although he didn’t have much in the way of points (2) or rebounds (4), he did a good job of keeping Al Horford nullified (9 points, 7 rebounds).


90 POINTS IN 24 HOURS: Let’s get back to Melo. The man’s stat line in the last 24 hours is 35/53 (8/12 from downtown) for 66% shooting, Nearly everything was within the flow of the offense and he made the right passes when needed. When you hear people say Melo is the best scorer in the NBA, these are the games that support that opinion. And I’ll go on record as predicting he’ll have a monster April and take his first scoring title.


MSG SOUTH: The Knicks are 6-1 over their last seven meetings with the Hawks. Once again, the Hawks had their arena turned into MSG South. It was downright embarrassing how loud the Knickstape faithful chanted “MVP!” for Melo in the fourth as he capped the evening with 40 points. If it wasn’t for the court colors, you’d swear they were playing in at the original Madison Square Garden.


Does the streak hit 11 games? We’ll find out on Friday when the Knicks head back home to face the Bucks.

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3 to the Head: Melo’s Career-High Nine 3s Lift Knicks Past Hawks


We’ve seen this scenario before. Just last month against the Sacramento Kings, we saw the ball get batted around and end up at the three-point line where we got our hearts broken. Deja vu looked to be in the cards as Josh Smith, who had swished a three earlier in the quarter, got a wide open look at the basket. Instead, the open shot careened off the rim and the Knicks overcame their bad defense to escape with a narrow 106-104 win.

I wouldn’t call this a good win; it was more of a relief when the final buzzer sounded. Onto the reason’s why.


BAD DEFENSE: From the opening tip, the lane stayed wide open and ATL’s Jeff Teague took full advantage of Raymond Felton to the tune of 18 first half points. Felton found his own jumper but couldn’t get any help defense and at times the game resembled a layup drill.

The Hawks would shoot 60% from the field and notch 50 points (!) in the paint. The Knicks continually shot themselves in the foot but having their inept defense eliminate their good offensive runs. At several points throughout the game, the Knicks would go on runs ranging from 16-0 to 7-0 only to have their work erased in a minute by giving up open 3s and layups.

Iman Shumpert was one of the few bright spots on defense in the first half by holding Kyle Krover, coming off 8 three-pointers in his last game against the Celtics, to just 1 point in the first half. For whatever reason, Coach Woodson didn’t play him much at all in the second half.


STOUDEMIRE GREAT ONCE AGAIN: Stat put up some excellent numbers again with 18 points on 6-9 shooting and 8 rebounds (4 offensive). With that type of output, we can live with the occasional blunders (3 turnovers) and bad fouls (4). Woodson knows this team’s future is dependent on the chemistry building between our Big Three and he wisely played them together down the stretch.


MELO ON FIRE: When he went 1-5 in the first quarter, I expected Melo to have a hard time dealing with Josh Smith for the rest of the night. That went out the window in the second quarter when Melo hit three straight from behind the arc (one damn near at half court). I was highly annoyed when he slammed the ball after getting poked in the eye which lead to a tech late in the fourth, but he immediately redeemed himself with the game-winning “And 1” drive on Josh Smith.


PRIGIONI AND SHUMPERT: Prigioni gave us 6 points (all from three) and 4 assists in 10 minutes  which was essential early on in the second quarter. And although he didn’t get to contribute much in the second half, Shumpert provided 2 steals and 8 points in his 19 minutes.


Melo’s hero ball worked tonight, but let’s hope the offense gets more varied and in sync as the chemistry builds with Felton and Shump back on the court.

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